Congress backs bill; section of party uneasy

The Modi government's move to push the triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha put the Congress in a quandary, as leaders from West Bengal and Kerala expressed uneasiness over the legislation that could isolate the party politically in their respective states.

Though the Congress flagged that it was the first political party to wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court judgement declaring instant triple talaq illegal, it voiced concerns over the government move to criminalise the practice.

However, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid insisted that the proposed law will be an "intrusion" into the personal lives of individuals and bring divorce, a civil issue, into the realm of criminal law.

Subsistence allowance

Initiating the debate on the bill in the Lok Sabha, Congress member Sushmita Dev said while her party supported the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, it wanted the measure to be strengthened by bringing more clarity on the issue of giving subsistence allowance to women who have been divorced through instant triple talaq.

West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdary, a Lok Sabha member from Murshidabad, had moved amendments to the bill. He was present to press for the amendments but stayed away from the proceedings when the bill was put to vote.

"We have to make some sacrifice when the party takes a particular view nationally," quipped a senior Congress member from Kerala. He said the party would be isolated in Kerala on the issue, particularly because the CPM and Muslim League were opposed to the measure.

Non-Congress Opposition parties like Trinamool Congress, Muslim League, AIMIM and BJD are against the bill and have voiced their objections to the bill. Some of them have already demanded that the bill be moved to a standing committee but the government has managed to clear the bill in the Lower House without referring it to the standing committee.

However, Opposition parties may up their ante in the Rajya Sabha, where they have impressive numbers and force the bill to be sent to the select committee.

A senior Left MP said the way the government is bulldozing bills in the Lok Sabha is not good for democracy and they would have a strategy in the Upper House to ensure that it is sent to the select committee.

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